Because of their unbelief, Israel was sentenced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Those years have now expired and the children of Israel are poised to enter into Canaan Land. They are ready to claim their inheritance in the land of promise. However, before they can enter Canaan, they must first get past one final, major obstacle: the Jordan River. Normally, this would not have presented much of a problem, since the Jordan was only 100 feet wide at Gilgal where they crossed. However, it seems that God always does things in such a way that no man can boast of having done them on their own. This crossing would be no exception. You see, God brought them to the Jordan River at the time of harvest, 4:15. The Jordan swells to an impassable width of over 1 mile! It was over 50 times wider than it normally would have been when Israel arrived. There was no way they could cross this river on their own! They needed supernatural help.
My friends, we each have Jordans that we face from time to time! When we look at the obstacles that stand between us and spiritual victory in our own Canaan, we may feel that we will never be able to enter our Canaan of victory and enjoy the abundant life that Jesus promised His followers. Well, it is true that I do not know what kind of obstacles that you face in your life, I do know a God Who specializes in overcoming the overwhelming and in leading His children to victory.
This morning, I would like for us to look into this account of Israel as they got past their Jordan. As we do, I would like to offer you some hope as well. You see, the things that worked for them over 3000 years ago will still work for you and me today. Allow me to show you from chapters 3 and 4 of Joshua How To Get Past Your Jordan. There are 3 steps that we must take to guarantee that we will be able to get past that obstacle that blocks our way and enter our Canaan. Let me share these steps with you this morning.
3:1-13 WE NEED TO EXAMINE A MESSAGE
V. 3-4 It Involved A Challenge – When it came time for the people to move forward to cross Jordan, God has a message that they needed to hear. In the words they heard, they were challenged to do three very important things. These things were designed to help them follow the Lord better. These are the same things that we need to hear this morning that will help up to follow the Lord better as well.
1. Watch God – The Ark, was that special piece of Tabernacle furniture that symbolized the presence and power of God. When the Ark was in the Holy of Holies, the glory of God rested upon it and it was the dwelling place of God. To Israel, it represented God’s presence in the midst of His people. In other words, when God moved, they were to move. When God stopped they were to do the same. There is a valuable spiritual lesson in this passage for you and me. We would do well, when we face times of crisis, or when we need direction in life to learn to be sensitive to the movement of the Lord in and around us.
2. Follow God – When they saw the Ark of the Covenant move, they were to “leave your place, and go after it” Not only were they to watch God, they were to move when He did. They were to pursue God! Again, the lesson for the believer is that it isn’t enough to know what God is doing, there comes a time when you must “leave you place and go after Him.” This may require us to leave our comfort zone! Israel was about to follow the Ark through a river that was over 1 mile wide! That couldn’t have been easy, but it was still necessary and right! Folk, following God may not be the easiest thing you will ever do, but it will be the best thing you ever do. If you ever expect to get past your obstacles and enter your Canaan, you must learn to follow God.)
3. Honor God – Notice that the Israelites are told to stay at least 3000 feet behind the Ark. This was so that they could easily see what was happening ahead of them. Another reason is that the Lord wanted no one but the Levites near the Ark. To get too close would have meant death. Again, there is a lesson here for us as well. We must never be guilty of treating God like is one of our buddies.
V. 5 It Involved A Command – Next, the people were told to in verse 5 “sanctify yourselves.” This referred to being sure they were as clean and holy as possible. They were to put away anything that was displeasing to the Lord. They were to examine themselves and get ready for the Lord to do something great for them.
(If you and I ever expect to get past the Jordan’s that arise in our lives, we are going to have to learn that one of the first things we must do is examine our lives to make sure they are as clean as possible.
V. 9-13 It Involved A Commitment – vs 10 This message to the Israelites reminded them that getting across the Jordan did not rest on their shoulders, but on the Lord’s. It was His plan to get them over and it was His problem. In these verses, He makes them a promise and tells them that He will bring them through in a powerful fashion. God, here, commits Himself to bringing his people across their Jordan! All that was required of Israel was that they trust God! May I remind you that things have not changed one bit? If God could be trusted in those days to keep His promises, then He can still be trusted today!
3:14-17 WE NEED TO EXPECT A MIRACLE
V. 15b There Was A Problem – As I mentioned in the introduction, the children of Israel were facing a big problem. The river was over 1 mile wide and there were 2 million people who had to cross, and yet the Lord wanted them to go over.
Have you ever sized up your problem and thought about how big it was? Maybe you looked at it and concluded, “There is no way around, through, over or past this problem.” “There’s no way!” God looks at the problem and says,
“Follow me, I have a plan!“
V. 15 There Was A Plan – The plan was this, God said, “When the feet of the priests enter Jordan, I am going to part the waters and lead you through on the dry ground!” There was a catch in this plan and it was that the waters would not part until the priests who were carrying the Ark stepped into the water. In other words, it took a step of faith, whereby the people obediently followed the Lord for them to see the miracle come to pass.
What a lesson for you and me. Too often, we want the Lord just to fix everything in our lives for us. We don’t want to have to make any decisions nor do we want to have to exercise our faith in Him. We just want Him to do it and that will be the end of it.
V. 16-17 There Was A Performance – When the priests stepped into that raging river, it parted and God opened a path of dry ground through the waters for His people. By the way, verse 16 says that the waters backed up to the City of Adam. This is some 20 miles north of where the children of Israel were crossing.
We need to remember that faith honors God and God honors faith! When He does it, it won’t just be patched up and ready to fall apart again, it will be done right and it will be done forever. He was ABLE all the way through the Bible, and He is still ABLE today! Regardless of the circumstances, He is still God and He still can! God can! Just ask, Noah, Moses, Daniel, the 3 Hebrews, a widow down in Zarephath, the Disciples on a little ship, and Saul of Tarsus. Just look back over your own life. How many times has the Lord opened your Jordan already?
4:1-24 WE NEED TO ERECT A MEMORIAL
When all the people had passed over Jordan, Joshua commanded one man from each of the 12 tribes to get a rock from the midst of Jordan and build a memorial on the Canaan side.
V, 6-7; 21-24 The Purpose Of The Memorial – These verses tell us that the purpose of the memorial was to remind successive generations of the power and faithfulness of God on behalf of His people. That memorial would be an important landmark to those who would come after.
By the same token, we need some memorials in our lives as well. If we embalm the past we cripple the future.
V. 9, 20 The Picture In The Memorial – Ill. It is interesting to notice that Joshua constructed 2 monuments. One on the bank and one in the river. These 2 memorials served 2 different purposes. Notice what they were.
V. 20 A Picture Of The Faithfulness Of God – The one on the bank of Jordan stood as a testimony to the faithfulness of God as I have just mentioned. It was there to remind others of what the Lord had done and of what He could do.
V. 9 A Picture Of The Faith Of The People – Now, what about the rock pile in the river? No one could see it but God! It stood as a monument to the faith of the people! You see, when you face a time of trial, others are often guilty of misjudging your motives and actions, however, only God knows the truth about your heart. Even though Israel couldn’t see it, they knew the monument was there! They remembered that they had believed God then and it had worked. This was a monument in their hearts.